Bipolar Disorder

This little cloud in the hyperlinked atmosphere has always been healing for me. It is the one place I can be honest about interests, fascinations, joys, flaws, opinions, etc. It helps me remember. More than anything, it helps me sort and compartmentalize the flurry of thoughts and feelings that reside in my unusual brain. My very high and very low swinging brain.

The only positive to depression is the understanding that other people in this world know exactly what I feel and would wrap their arms around me and say that they understand and mean it.

How it feels to have bipolar disorder:

- Falling into a slump for what feels like no reason, sometimes without a trigger.

- Constantly seeking activities to level out: biking, hiking, reading, art, cleaning, writing, spakeling pinholes in drywall, energy drinks, etc. Any activity that brings a level of focus so zeroed-in that there is no room for stray thoughts that might remotely resemble sadness.

- Mania that feels so good--almost ecstatic--it is like being on clean, beautiful drugs. Learning really quickly not to trust it because the comedown can be abrupt and absolutely hopeless...plummeting away from that happy gathering on the clouds.

- People thinking I make it up.

- People thinking I am broken, deficient, damaged, frightening.

- People ending friendships because I bring them down, ignore them to protect them, they don’t know what to do to help. Even as a person who experiences depression, thinking about sitting across from a person who bums me out, would bum me out.

- Asking the universe why I had to be made this way.

- Those who love me the most and who strive to understand and help make 555 excuses for me. “She has a migraine.” “She’s studying.”

- Becoming the world’s best actor because no one--NO ONE--wants to hear about a sometimes debilitating disorder that resides in the crevices of my brain.

- Feeling weak, when in all other aspects of life I am strong, capable, successful, resilient, and people look up to me.

- Grinning and bearing social situations that are humiliating, excruciating, anxiety-inducing, and involve too much sensory input.

- The constant desire to be alone--at least that way I have nothing to explain and no one else to bum out. But then blessed solitude worsens my mental state.

- Using alcohol and/or drugs to help, which do, albeit only temporarily.

- Cutting. It instantly releases the mind-numbing confusion.

- Death being a casual thought. In the throws of extreme lows, wishing for it.

- It affecting EVERY facet of life: friendships, relationships, work.

- Crying. A lot.

- Strangers commanding: “Smile!” Loved ones who offer good-intentioned advice that can be summed up as: “Snap out of it!” “Just be happy!!”

- Shutting down, shutting people out. Sometimes forever.

- Going to absurd lengths to pick myself up: super cheery music, cartoons, stand-up comedy marathons.

- Realizing that it is not a character flaw. It is a result of the chemicals in my brain.

- Wishing it was better understood. If it was a visible disability, others would be able to label it, feel sympathy, endeavor to understand and help. In 2014, a beautiful friend helped me get to a counselor. She asked, “If your leg was broken, wouldn’t you go to a doctor and have it x-rayed and placed in a cast?” The answer was, of course, yes. In an instant, she helped remove the stigma of being a super sad individual. The question made me daydream about an existence where forms of depression were like the broken bone. Beyond the horror of the witnesses would be a genuine outreach to ease the injured person’s pain. It would be natural to want to tend to the wound and provide hope for a pain-free day. My hope and happiness comes when I do find ‘my people’ and hear a familiar story.